Amber is the hardened resin of ancient pine trees. This organic substance is most well-known for the incredible inclusions of insects that can be found within it. People have been making amber jewelry for over 40,000 years, which could make it the first gem material ever used. The fascination with amber continues today.

The highest values go to those pieces with clearly visible insect inclusions, light colors, and clarity. Since the Jurassic Park movie, the most popular inclusions are mosquitos. Inclusions of plant material, while of great interest to scientists, add little to the value of jewelry. (These inclusions are often too small to be recognized easily). Very large amber pieces are extremely rare.

Amber is noted for its inclusions, which are chiefly insects, pollen, leaves, and other organic debris. Millions of years ago, still-living pine trees trapped these bits in their oozing, sticky fluids. These inclusions offer a remarkable view of life in those times. Some of the finer amber specimens contain whole, trapped termite colonies. The chambers of these structures, created with webbing, are still visible.

Ancient techniques for identifying amber are still useful today. If rubbed vigorously on a piece of wool, the real deal will generate a static charge strong enough to pick up a small piece of ash. When it’s warm enough, it also gives off a distinctive, pleasant scent. These techniques may distinguish the genuine material from plastic imitations.

A specific gravity SG test can also help weed out the imitations. You can concoct a handy homemade testing liquid by boiling water and adding as much salt as you can dissolve in it. This will have a density of about 1.13. Amber, with a SG of 1.08, will float in this solution. So, if your sample sinks, you can be sure it’s not amber. If it floats, you still need to conduct more tests.

The Baltic Sea Region, including Poland, Germany, and Russia, most of the world’s amber comes from a region formerly known as East Prussia and now known as the Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian enclave. Dominican Republic, mined from sedimentary rocks. Yellow, orange, and red colors. This material often contains well-preserved insects and sometimes displays a strong bluish tone in reflected light.